The Giants pass rush has been highly ineffective to start the 2021 season, but Joe Judge isn’t discrediting the edge rushers’ effort.
Through six weeks, we’ve seen a Giants defense that’s nowhere near as good as the 2020 version of the unit. That side of the ball is what made the Giants competitive in the NFC East last year, but in 2021, the group is digging the entire team deeper and deeper in the standings.
A major reason for the struggles is the lack of a true pass rush. The Giants have just 10 sacks on the year, which is tied for 27th in the NFL and has partly led to the defense allowing 264.2 passing yards per game up to this point.
It’s not an effort problem though, at least according to Joe Judge.
“I don’t see any issue with [the edge rushers’] effort right now. Are we going to do things to try to help our edge rushers in different schemes? Absolutely,” the head coach told the media Wednesday, per Giants.com. “Are there things that have to come together with all 11 on the field so everyone’s productive? To me, the pass rush always starts with the coverage. The coverage is aided by the pass rush. They’ve got to work off each other. If one’s lacking, the other one has no chance of getting there. To me, in terms of how the edge rushers are playing, I’m pleased with their effort. They’ve got to keep making progress. There are a lot of things we’ve got to do better as a team. In terms of those guys being productive, we’ve got to help them a little bit as coaches and we’ve got to make sure they make the plays when they come their way.”
It’s not like the Giants don’t employ the necessary bodies to pressure the quarterback either.
Lorenzo Carter and Oshane Ximines are two of the more experienced edge rushers on this team while rookie Azeez Ojulari notched a sack in each of his first three career games. Leonard Williams, although a down lineman in a 3-4 scheme, led the team with 11.5 sacks last year and signed a $63 million extension in the offseason because of it.
It’s unclear when exactly Elerson Smith will return, but he’ll at least provide depth in this area of the field when he does. The rookie edge rusher out of Northern Iowa, who the Giants drafted in the fourth round earlier this year, has been on injured reserve with a hamstring injury and just returned to practice Wednesday. He has yet to partake in an NFL game.
Overall, the ineffective pass rush has partly led to numerous quarterbacks constructing impressive performances against the Big Blue defense. Matthew Stafford just threw for 251 yards and four touchdowns in the Rams’ win over the Giants this past Sunday while Dak Prescott threw for 302 yards and three touchdowns the week before.
Even inexperienced Washington quarterback Taylor Heinicke racked up 336 yards and a pair of scores through the air when the Football Team defeated the Giants back in Week 2.
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